I was honored to have a chat with Fire Battalion Chief Pollett. Listen as she shares inspirational stories of her exciting career with San Diego Fire. In this episode, we discuss the many positions she held with the department and the deadly incident where she found her friends and the love of her life under a shower of gunfire.
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Speaker 1: 0:00
You are listening to her brotherhood. I'm your host, Abby bolt. This is where we celebrate women who put their lives on the line and triumph over tragedy. Now in this episode, I am nothing short of honored to share with you our first guest, San Diego fire and rescue. Trisha zip Paulette. My career as a wildland firefighter is what led me to first meet Trish through an interagency leadership program we were introduced to, and the immediate words that come to mind when I look back on that are kind, humble, and inspiring. You will hear some wonderful stories in this episode, but I have to share with you why she is her Brotherhood's first interview. It wasn't too long after I met her that she and her husband Bruce, who was also a San Diego firefighter found themselves in what seemed like endless gunfire at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas. They were there to relax and be on vacation. They had no idea that it would turn into a more terrifying and deadly incident than they had ever faced on the job as firefighters. And just like all first responders do. They sprang into action because it is unconscious. It's an instinct that drives these people to do what they do. However, things got even worse when Trisha's new friend standing next to her was shot in the heart. And then her husband Bruce was shot as well. Not long ago, I was in a pretty low point early last year going through some difficult times. And I decided I wanted to put that energy into creating her brother had a podcast, I wanted to funnel all the pain and frustration I was feeling into something positive. So often women in careers like mine are in the media for things like harassment and assault. So I came up with the idea of finding a way to celebrate the women who put their lives on the line, not just in fire, but the military, law enforcement, you name it against my emotions, I let my significant other talk me into going to the national annual Hot Shot reunion that was located in San Diego. And we can talk about that later, and about how wonderfully supportive my brothers and fire were in an episode down the road. When I was truly struggling. I made it through. And on the first night, we went to meet Trish for dinner. I was afraid to ask her about the shooting, but she was more than willing to talk about it. And when she explained the experience challenges, and how she got through it all to the point where she could actually talk to me about it at dinner without crying. I knew that she had to be the first interview I asked her and Trish palette agreed with a smile in full support of my efforts. As expected, life got in the way and I wasn't able to kick off the first episode as soon as I'd hoped. But Trish kept telling me whenever I was ready. So was she the next time I saw her in person was at one hell of a shindig for her retirement in a historical San Diego firehouse. She is now in beautiful Montana enjoying all of the hard work and sacrifice she made in her career. Now that you know how we got here, please sit back, relax, and enjoy the story of this amazing woman, Tricia Paulette, of who I am proud of as a part of her brotherhood.
Speaker 2: 3:05
I'm Trisha pawlett. And I am in Bigfork, Montana at my home. I've been here one month Exactly. So it's very exciting. This is my new adventure in retirement after 29 years or almost 29 years in San Diego Fire Department I retired. I'm now living in a whole new dream.
Speaker 1: 3:24
Ever since you just said big work Montana. Now I can't even stop smiling because I see the smile on your face because we're Skyping right now we can see each other and I do. I know how lit up you are and that's pretty cool. So I think it was like what day after you guys had your retirement party? Or did you have your truck packed when you were having your retirement party was already packed? Because I swear you guys were on the road right after?
Speaker 2: 3:46
Yeah, we were mostly packed. My last day was the 11th and that was the night of our party on January 11. And then on Monday morning, we were on the road headed out. That is so cool. Now you say we so who are we? My husband Bruce and I who also retired from San Diego Fire Department.
Speaker 1: 4:04
That is so cool. So you guys both what were your retirement dates right next to each other pretty close. Are
Speaker 2: 4:10
He retired a week before me? You're retired on the fifth. And then I stayed one extra week to finish up some projects and the transition.
Speaker 1: 4:29
Nice, so we can always say that he got out for you.
Speaker 2: 4:21
Speaker 1: 4:23
Speaker 2: 4:24
I had a whole week to tell him nobody likes a quitter.
Speaker 1: 4:28
Very cool. Now, the way that I even ever met you, which I think is interesting is because your fire department was actually connected with the wildland community. Can you tell me a little bit more about that?
Speaker 2: 4:40
Yeah, our fire chief brand Fennessy at the time had worked for the Forest Service. And so he started bringing in leadership program the NW CG leadership curriculum. And I was actively involved with teaching that and met a lot of people who work for the Forest Service and BLM I had the wonderful opportunity of doing some teaching leadership classes in Montana and Idaho, and in California, also different parts of California. And through that, I met a bunch of people who have kept me connected in lots of different ways,
Speaker 1: 5:16
Because I never would have met you if you weren't connected with us and how, like in your department, how many people did this leadership program are really intertwined with the wildland folks.
Speaker 2: 5:26
Who probably had 15 to 20 of our department members who were teaching the leadership stuff. But we also have a ton of our people who go out on management team assignments and single role assignments. So with all the different and even going out on strike teams, and as a strike team leader going out on fires, I got to hang out with a ton of people who had not only met through the leadership curriculum and program but also who then I met as friends of friends. So it's a pretty small community. And you're right with the details that you guys get to do in the forest service. It's been so fun with different places, I work to meet different people as they rotate in and move around.
Speaker 1: 6:06
You retired as a battalion chief? Right?
Speaker 2: 6:09
Speaker 1: 6:09
To San Diego. And so I want to know how this cliche question that we all have to ask each other is, how in the world did you get into firefighting?
Speaker 2: 6:18
I, for some reason, as a kid, I had thought about it and thought it was, you know, I probably every kid, you're interested, you see the fire engine, it just looks amazing. I was in high school, and my best friend through junior high school and high school was a guy whose dad worked for the San Diego fire department, and two of my best friends were boys. And then now through hanging out with them, and he knew that the fire department was recruiting women and some of the gals they were bringing in or not necessarily a great fit or not maybe as understanding of guys. And so because he knew I already had those relationships and got along well, he started teaching me about the fire service and ran me through the physical agility test. And I absolutely fell in love with it decided to go to San Diego State for a year because my plan had been to get a degree and become an athletic trainer. And after a year at San Diego State, I just couldn't stop thinking about being a firefighter. So I abandoned that path and started taking classes in fire technology.
Speaker 1: 7:25
That is so cool. So it would be fair to say you kind of grew up like a tomboy.
Speaker 2: 7:29
Yeah, you know, it's interesting, because I was raised by a single mom, my best friend Kim, growing up since second grade, her father really helped raise me. And then Scott's dad Mac had also been a huge influence once I got into junior high in high school. So it was really more me wanting to be a tomboy than me being brought into I had a boyfriend and I'd hang out with him in the auto shop. Something that I think when I was younger, I didn't have and it just really interested in me. So I started finding opportunities to learn those things that I had no exposure to well, and I find that
Speaker 1: 8:09
A lot of people raised by just the mom because they're so they want their daughters to be strong and independent. And, you know, and they seem to kind of navigate toward those places because I'm sure your mom wanted that for you.
Speaker 2: 21
Yeah. And she was very strong and independent to raising three girls, and being the sole provider was a big job for her for sure.
Speaker 1: 8:31
So you were how old when you actually got into the department.
Speaker 2: 8:35
I was 21 I had just turned a few months before I started.
Speaker 1: 8:41
Nice. And did you do anything else for a job at all before that? Do you wait tables? Did you do anything different?
Speaker 2: 8:47
I did a lot of things I started pushing when I was 16 years actually 15 and a half. I'd worked at McDonald's and I worked at a pizza place and I worked at a Mexican restaurant waiting tables and serving. I taught aerobics and did some personal training through a couple of different health clubs. They put me through their training program, so I stayed pretty physically active as well. And along with the athletic training thing I had worked at a sports Medical Center, the physical therapy office was a physical therapy assistant and I do ultrasounds and ice packs for the patients that would come through and help all sizes. That's awesome. All that before. 21. Yeah, it's
Speaker 1: 9:28
cool. Not a lot of people get that much experience before then.
Speaker 2: 9:32
Yeah. So to my mom being a single parent, I tried to work and help pay for some of the things through high school.
Speaker 1: 9:38
Tell me about like getting into the fire service. You knew you wanted to do it. You were it was eaten. Yep. How did you get in there? What was that like
Speaker 2: 9:45
Taking classes at the local junior college that had the third technology program was huge. At the junior college, I was able to start taking classes and networking. It was funny because my friend's father who had started me down this path. At one point basically said, Look, you're going to figure this out. So go off on your own, take classes at the college, start networking, and I know you, you're going to be fine. I did. And I felt kind of abandoned at first. But I realized later that he just really wanted me to find my way. And he wanted me to meet people and not have it be the association with him as much as me setting my own path.
Speaker 1: 10:27
So I didn't want you to get tagged with like, Oh, well, she just knows so and so. Maybe, yeah,
Speaker 2: 10:33
That very well. Could be too. Yeah. So I started taking classes and got involved with the EMT program, that was where we all had to start did not have to be an EMT to get on the department you do now. But everybody told me that was the best way to go. So actually, the first four weeks of my Academy was redoing the EMT class, which was great, because I was already ahead of that I had that. But it was the testing process was basically an application. And we had 6000 people that applied for the position back in 1989. And actually, our department has gone down. In recent years, we've had some application periods where they've extended them trying to get more so Jan Diego city has some challenges. Some of the employers and the benefits they offer make other cities and other areas more desirable,
Speaker 1: 11:22
I think too, is like back then you didn't have to be an EMT, you know, now you got to have your EMT or firefighter one. So it really does narrow it down a lot more than you used to, I suppose.
Speaker 2: 11:31
Absolutely. Yeah, you have to put those extra efforts in. And depending on where you are in life if you're in a place where you've got a family, and you can afford to take the classes or take the time out to do other things. Sometimes it's challenging, but a lot of people are doing it and making that sacrifice. And I think that's one of the things that the more they've done when they go to get hired, it's more for the interviewers to look at to see that they really have put some effort into this. And some people great lengths, and those stories go far and showing their resilience, their dedication, and their ability to achieve their goal, regardless of how hard it may be for them.
Speaker 1: 12:11
Really good points. How many were in your Academy when you went?
Speaker 2: 12:14
At that time? We had the largest Academy in San Diego history. We had 42 people in it.
Speaker 1: 12:19
Speaker 2: 12:20
Yeah, it was a big group.
Speaker 1: 12:22
And out of those 42, how
many were women?
Speaker 2: 12:25
We had a one-state eight, there was still a big push to try to get women on the department. The city of San Diego did not want to have affirmative action forced on them. So they were trying to do the Equal Opportunity employment. We had I'm pretty sure it was eight women go through and I think six of us made it I believe I know for a fact, two did not.
Speaker 1: 12:51
So they're men also that got washed out.
Speaker 2: 2:53
Speaker 1: 12:54
That's I know, when people hear that. They think that Oh, the girls got washed out like no, the dudes get washed out, too. I guess not just
Speaker 2: 12:59
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, it was performance-based and you to test and there was no Miss scoring, you know, you either passed the written tests or not. And all of the physical certifications were done in groups. And it was the same thing. There was a time standard, you either passed it or you didn't, there were skill standards, where if you didn't complete the task with the appropriate level of detail, you know, and making sure you hit all of the steps, those are all things that could wash you out.
Speaker 1: 13:30
Interesting. So what really flashes in your mind about your Academy, and about that time
Speaker 2: 13:35
I absolutely loved. And it's funny because a lot of people are like oh God, the Academy, but I love how close we were with the people we had. I love the feedback. I mean, even though there was always that fear of failure and not meeting the standard, I love that every day I knew exactly where I stood, I was getting continuous feedback of what I did, right? And what I needed to improve on. And so tomorrow, I could be better, I could choose to do what I needed to do to be better. And one of the things that is sad is as you move up in your career, that really goes away. The feedback is a lot less than one of the things I always tried to do was tell my supervisors and the people working for me as well, I can't succeed without your feedback. So I always try to voice that I wanted their input that I wanted to hear what I was doing to help them succeed and where I was falling short of them, whether it's meeting their goals or serving our team. And I think that's one of the hardest things to do is to give people feedback. So I really tried to create an invitation, at least so they knew that I wanted it. I still think it's hard as you get higher in your career.
Speaker 1: 14:55
That's a really good point. And I think the more adult people become the let that Like, the older they get, the more they're afraid of confrontation, and they're afraid to even open that door of, you know, saying something, or documenting it or just walking up to me like you could do a little better at XYZ, you know, it's It is, it is hard. And do you remember anything, any of the feedback you got, or any of those moments where I've got to improve on this, or someone told you like, Trish, you have to up that or, or was there a moment in your Academy where you were like, I might not be strong enough to do that
Speaker 2: 15:27
I don't, I remember a time where I was one of the captains who was absolutely just such a role model and such an amazing person to be around. And I was working so hard on the hose, it was the end of the day, the hose was soaking wet, I was pulling it up onto the roof of our training tower. That was four stories high, my partner had, not intentionally, but my partner had actually laid the hose backwards. So instead of pulling it up from a coil, I was actually pulling it up from the bottom. So the weight of all the other hose was weighing it down as I was trying to drag it and pull it up. And I was just, I was working so hard for them, I was making a lot of interesting noises, I'm sure. And the training captain was amazing. He was, you know, just standing there cheering me on and encouraging me to do it. And I remember telling him afterwards, I said, Well, I don't have any kids yet. But I'm assuming when I have my firstborn with the labor, and I'm like, this is gonna sound light. And he just started cracking up and he said, my maiden name is zip, because zip, I'll take you on my crew any day. That was just one of those that, you know, it was setting my mind to the fact that I could not fail that having him there being a positive role model. And cheering me on was really helpful. That wasn't always the case. You know, there were some people that weren't as positive and weren't as encouraging throughout my career, even in life. And so I think that's a big thing is realizing that, if you're not getting it from outside, you've got to have it within. And you've got to have that own voice in your own head, that we all have our inner critic, but we need to have our inner advocate as well, I
Speaker 1: 17:18
yeah, that's a really, really good point. Going to that Academy. So all those other women, and how did you feel perceived your first year? Your rookie year? Did you did it feel? Did you feel welcome? I mean, that was an 89. It wasn't that long ago, but it was a while back where, you know, we weren't quite as developed in this. So how was it?
Speaker 2: 17:35
So it's actually 1990 when I finally got on the job 89 when I started. Yeah, so it took a little while to get through that testing process and, and get hired. But my Academy was in 1990, you know, I think it was then not too much different than it is now I think there were very mixed blends of people. And I came to find that I came across three different versions. There were the people who would support me, they take the time to get to know me, and they'd support me for who I was, and the job I was doing. There were the people that no matter what I did, were not going to accept me. And the nice thing was those, some of those people made it hard on it when we were actually working. But some of them wouldn't even talk to me. And so that was obviously difficult. Because again, that whole feedback piece, right? I'm new, I'm trying to learn I'm trying to improve. And if you're not talking to me, I don't know whether I'm doing it right or wrong. Yeah, so those were kind of hard. The ones that challenged me even more than that, though, were the ones who would to my face, act as if they were a friend. And then they would ask me questions of you know, what do you need to work on? What are some of the areas that you feel you're deficient? And I'd share that with them. And then they turn it around and go do you believe she didn't know this? And she you know, couldn't do that and would turn it around to being an attack on me. Right? And use your never mo to my face? Absolutely. And never to my face behind my back. So it was one of those things that luckily those people were were few and far between. They definitely were not the majority. So I mean, I think overall, I had an amazing opportunity throughout my career to work with wonderful people. You know, there's ups and downs in every relationship. But I think, in the end, there were a lot of great people that I had the opportunity to work with and learn from, there's far more good than there are bad. Absolutely. And even those who challenged me, I still learn from them. Even those who you know, there's life lessons that I got from those people who were, you know, how I shared my vulnerabilities changed, you know, I would be very specific about that. You know, certain things that I could improve on. But, you know, I wouldn't necessarily share what I didn't know before or I just became very, I don't want to say guarded, but I definitely learned to guard a little bit and try to protect myself, I guess to make sure that I was putting my best foot forward and not allowing anything to be used against me whenever possible.
Speaker 1: 20:23
Yeah, there's vulnerabilities can if someone somebody uses your vulnerability against you, it can really get you more than anything they could have made up.
Speaker 2: 20:31
Absolutely. And a lot of times I learned I'd make a joke on myself before anybody else could if I knew it was coming. Yep, I tried to take.
Speaker 1: 20:40
I already said that. Okay. do you any good? Right? Yeah, right there with you. You've got the rookie year. So you've got Trish all she's got under her belt. Oh, she went got her EMT. She's got now she's got her cert from the Fire Academy. So shooting forward to went all the way through your career once you're you're retired, because a lot of people don't realize like when they say like, well, what what do you know? What have you learned? What are you certified as? And when we start rattling off our credentials? It's kind of it's overwhelming, right? Like when I was just going through years and years of fire training, trying to consolidate a bunch of stuff the other day, and it was like, Oh, my God, I forgot I got certified in this and this and this, you know, so when you're like, what are you What do you know? So just give me the like trash rattle rundown of what are you certified in or trained in?
Speaker 2: 21:25
You got it. So when I got on the fire department, my first couple years, my focus was just being a good firefighter. And then I became a paramedic, I had the opportunity to go through our paramedic training program. And then a couple of years, getting that getting comfortable with being a paramedic. And then I started taking our specialized heavy rescue classes, and confined space rescue and became an instructor at our rescue training program down in San Diego. And then I went to hazmat training became a hazardous materials specialist. And that was actually how I ended my career with managing that team as the program manager after hazmat, that's when I started the promotion process became a fire engineer. And after a couple years as a fire engineer, I was fortunate I, at that point had it almost 13 years on I became a captain. And as a captain, I tried branching out to even more stations and specialties. Throughout that all of that I also got my state of California master instructor, instructor three. So I wanted to everything that I was learning, I was teaching and trying to make sure that I could not only share my experiences, but the more I watched and learned and learn from other people's experiences, it just opened a lot of doors and definitely helped me provide better emergency response in the time where you're trying to make the best decision for people. And you're wondering, you know, what, you know, or what you can drawback to? That was one of the things that I really tried to beef up was the experiences that I could drawback on to figure out how am I going to make this call better?
Speaker 1: 23:08
This was definitely not just a job for you. Was it?
Speaker 2: 23:11
No, no, absolutely not.
Speaker 1: 23:13
Yeah, definitely. It's definitely a way of life and it's who you are and your lifestyle. Because just hearing your heart and what how you carry you want it to be so much better for your the people you served.
Speaker 2: 23:24
Oh, absolutely. And that was the one thing that I'm so happy I was able to end my career and never having to have anybody seriously injured or having to lose someone under my watch. And definitely as a captain in the tie-in chief, you're making decisions and putting people on assignments that could get them injured or killed. I'm not saying that it was my skill that kept everyone safe. I mean, at times, I maybe was overcautious, but I definitely felt like it was my responsibility to at least know how to make the best decision possible and protect them in the best way I could, whether it was sending them in or keeping them out of a situation.
Speaker 1: 24:05
You know, people are always talking about those special skills that women bring to the job and like it or not, right, wrong or indifferent. I mean, just like talking to you and knowing you and putting someone like you in the job, like we have that instinct that care that wanting to make sure you know at sure every guy dies out there too. But you know, you feel I think women have a different kind of empathy and caring nature about them to where, you know, we think about things a little bit differently than the men do. And we worry a little bit more if I just think about my son like when I'm working with people I think about how can I get him to come home safely? How can I get that guy home to his wife safely? You know, and I think we have a little bit of a different take on it than some of the men do.
Speaker 2: 24:44
Yeah. And I think the ethical dilemma of there are times where I know the organization had needs that were my responsibility to carry out but I also knew that my crew members had needs and being with their families and getting the time off and so trying to work in the middle And support that and definitely look at the people that I was working with not as just employees and firefighters who we could work to the ground, you know, work until they collapse, but recognizing that, you know, we need them to be able to be at their best we need to give them time to recover and trying to train to pace, I guess is the in not just pace on a call, but patient a career and patient life. And, you know, we all talk about work-life balance, but I think very few supervisors and workplaces, they may say the words, but to really live it and lock it is really challenging. And I know for myself, I didn't always do that. And I didn't always say no, I was so flattered. If I was asked to work on a special project, the answer was always Yes. And when I finally started saying, you know, I've got too many things going right now, and it's affecting my family. I know that was, I don't want to say it was frowned upon. But I'll say it got to a point where, unfortunately, some people would stop asking to where I'd even want to volunteer, and sometimes wouldn't get selected. Because they're like, Well, you know, we've already got people who've been working on this project, so we're gonna stay with them. And
Speaker 1: 26:19
that is just because that's how I've, I've been to that place. Fine. You know, and I, I'm the same like you, I couldn't say no, because I wanted to be a part of everything wanted to, you know, help and everything. And yeah, like you. I remember, before I had before I had a son, I was like, What do you mean, you're not gonna work overtime? What do you mean, you're not gonna, you know, I think, do you feel like it was once you had that family? And is that what shifted?
Speaker 2: 26:42
Yeah, when I got married, I didn't have any kids of my own. So Bruce had two kids when we got married. And that definitely, the kids were four and seven and wanting to really build a strong relationship with them. And I really wanted to be there for them. So I did have to step back from some of my other commitments and step out of some of the things that were I'd taken really lead roles and was doing a lot of extra work. When I started backing out, you know, it also made room for other people to come forward and step into it and learn things. So I tried to turn over the positions and do it in a graceful way. But I mean, it's hard when you get left behind in the end, but I'm glad I did it. And I know my family benefited from it after spending the last weekend with my daughter, and you know, just how great our relationship has become over the years. It's so worthwhile in the end. But you know, at the time, it's hard when you're trying to do everything, and you just can't
Speaker 1: 27:43
know. And there's that sweet spot where you realize like, there is something more important than work. Absolutely. Yep. And then Adam comes on.
Speaker 2: 27:50
Yeah, Bruce was good about giving me that perspective. He definitely. We, we actually had some pretty good arguments in our first years of marriage about what level of commitment we were both going to keep maintaining at work and how much we were going to do.
Speaker 1: 28:07
So when you guys met was he was a firefighter, obviously.
Speaker 2: 28:11
Yeah. So Bruce was that we met many, many years ago. And we'd been friends, our department did an exchange program with some other fire departments when we became paramedics, but we didn't have ambulances. But we would rotate over to another department and transport on their ambulances. And they would come work on our engines. So most of them were slower cities, they could come and work in busier districts in the city of San Diego. And we would get to work on their ambulances and get our paramedic experience. That was when I met Bruce back in 92. Okay, and then fast forward years later, we ended up dating in 99. So seven years later, but when I was telling you so we had these arguments over what level of engagement we were going to have. And it was pretty funny because we finally came up with a written we called it compromise. Wow. And it was a written compromise after years and years. And it was no more than one week, a year that we would travel out of pounds for something having to do with work. And it's really once we got that settled out and we came to a compromise of what would be agreeable for both of us. The other side caveat was, at any point in time, we could, you know, with the other person's agreement, we could go beyond that. So like it's an amazing opportunity came up. It was a two-week out of Towner. Of course, Bruce, you know, would support me on that. And once we put it in writing, it was really funny because we rarely referred back to it. We just needed to agree to that balance.
Speaker 1: 29:48
I love that and I want to know more about this later from YouTube because I love that concept. Is that something you guys just came up with? Just you're like, I think this will work or what did where'd you get that idea?
Speaker 2: 29:59
I think It was more just we kept going back and forth. And I'd say, Well, I thought I could go for two weeks. No, no, we said one. So we're like, Okay, that's it. We're putting it. Yeah, we're putting it in writing. Let's get something that we can look back to. And when something comes up before I would go to him with it, I'd read Okay, what can I do? How many ways even policy late the call for my review the policy to see how a lot of complaints I would be? And it worked out great for us, because it really just took out that stress of in Bruce kept saying, I get it, but it's a great opportunity. But at that point in time, I had a lot of great opportunities coming my way. And I just couldn't say no. And so I mean, really, he helped me put back the balance in my life that I had lost. And like you said, you know, we started out, we're young, we're single, it becomes our life. And so it was good that he refocused me and put that balance back in my life, that compromise really helped.
Speaker 1: 31:03
Because you don't hear very often that it's the man in the relationship that did that. So that's really heartwarming to hear that Bruce had that within him. And plus, you had the foreign seven when you started, right. Like, I think those are the ages like specially around for where they're like, excuse me, but you need to be home this weekend, the kids, those are key ages, you know, and for you to that's when you were integrating into the tone with the children. And that's so cool. But definitely like when they're little bitty, they don't even they're like Where'd she go? I don't know, did somebody feed me? When they're all there, they start to call you out. And then you realize, so that's, that's really cool. You're able to be there for them. So you and how long have you been married?
Speaker 1: 31:40
We got married in 2000. So we just celebrated our 19 year anniversary.
Speaker 2: 31:44
That's right. Well, congratulations. That's cool. I just one of these days, I want to do an interview with the both of you. Okay, because I think I think having both of you on and listening to things like about the contract would be compromised, that compromise like go from very cool. So looking back at get like your time as a captain and we talked about, you know, getting your crew home safe. And, and all of that. What when you look back, one or two of the calls, like what's something that really comes to mind when you're like, but that one was close.
Speaker 2: 32:14
That was sketchy. We're out on a wildland fire. And we were we've been working all day, you know, planning what we were going to do they were going to do some they just called it firing. And so getting someone to really commit to are we trying to backfire? Or are we firing out what exactly is the intent of what we're trying to do here? And they were kind of hemming and hawing. Well, by the time everything had been agreed upon, and we were in place and the operation started, the wind shifted on us pretty quick after we were supposed to keep it from jumping in the road and one spot became two spots became an acre. And one of the engines out of our strike team that was Captain at the time one of the five engines on our strike team had been pulled back to support the helicopters with water filling, and they saw it all happening. And as this huge cloud of smoke, they said it looked like a wave they actually got a video of it. Pretty impressive. The way the smoke cloud went over us like a wave. They thought we were all dead. And we ended up one of our guys cut a hose line and I my crew had gone up to help with a larger Spotfire. So my engineer and I, I was right between the two of them. And I had to decide which way to go. And I knew that my two firefighters were with another captain, my engineer was by himself. So I went to my engineer, I was calling on the radio calling on the radio, things got so chaotic, so quick. Nobody was coming up on the radio to get back to me on what was going on. And we didn't know it at the time. But we had lost our resources they had gotten pulled because it had taken so long for the operation to start that they had to go refill. So all this one more thing where you're like, Okay, well, that wasn't very coordinated in the end at all. But it worked out great because my two firefighters did get on another rig with the captain. The strike team leader finally got back to me told me they were okay. We all met up. But I actually I'll have to send you a picture of the fire. There's the fire was called the day fire. One of the biggest fires in California history. Yeah. And it was fire. The fire was doing a lot of things and a lot of areas. But I was just, I learned a lot that day on listening to other people and asking questions. And at the time, I think I just didn't. I assumed other people were going to ask the questions that we were asking our straight team later that it was all going to keep getting pushed up. And at some point it didn't go from that I learned to speak up at whatever time it is and whoever the audience's if my question isn't getting answered, I need to ask it. Some of those valuable lessons. So that was, yeah, yeah. So even though we're mostly Metropolitan structural firefighters, I think the area where we were, in a lot of ways more vulnerable was when we were just a little bit out of our element doing things that we didn't do as often. Right. And definitely, the firing operations are not something we do in the city of San Diego.
Speaker 1: 35:29
Looking at that, that that wouldn't have taken much for that Swiss cheese to line up and to have a tragedy that I'm sure looking back at you guys. Yeah, it's as close calls though, that definitely make you better down the road. Yeah,
Speaker 2: 35:42
We're killing them that night.
Speaker 1: 35:44
But luckily, was upgraded totality. Correct?
Speaker 2: 35:47
Yeah, it was it showed the fire and the fire behavior. The video they got from on the freeway was crazy because they were overlooking the area where we were working on the template on highway. So basically they caught great footage, and they caught one of our engines where they cut the hose and drove off with a little bit of the hose bagging. And we're on CNN, but like you said that we lost anyone just that there was some crazy fire behavior, and we're out working hard.
Speaker 1: 36:16
Wow. That's insane. That's cool. So it's funny that that one that really strikes your mind is so wildly in one, of course. Yeah. Cuz that's like, Yeah, a little bit outside of the element. Like you can't put all those guys in a structure fire that when like all of our guys all the wildland, it wouldn't work out. So, guys, if you guys are definitely better at ours, and we are at yours. So that's, that's good. Something that I always wonder about my structure, friends, and having medical aids, and all of that being such the bread and butter of a lot of your job, what looking back thinking about all the patients that you had, and all the rescues that you had? What are some of the memories from that, that really strike your mind?
Speaker 2: 36:51
Oh, I've got a lot of memories from that. You know, there's three calls that really have that really stuck with me that were the more traumatic one. And I feel like making it through my career with three very vivid, lasting images that are that were ones that I had to actually work through. On one of them. For a month after the call. When I close my eyes, I'd see the person's face. So you know, those, luckily, there were only three of those, and I've moved through them to where I'm, I'm good, I'm at peace with all of that. But I can just think back to so many of the people that we were able to help and all of the little things that we're able to do a cardiac arrest, the man went there in a movie, and he starts throwing popcorn, and he's a joker, so his wife thinks he's just messing with her. And she's like, telling him stop throwing the popcorn at me. And it turns out, he was having a seizure, he actually went into cardiac arrest, and collapsed the movie theater. And we didn't know if we were going to be able to save them or not. He was in his mid-40s and was in the movie with his wife and two children. I had never done it before. But I just left a note on the chart saying, you know, we're from this engine company. And we hope that all goes well. You know, if you feel a need to reach out to us, here's how you can get us. And I actually we got a card from him two months, two or three months later, maybe a little bit longer. But it was Christmas. And they sent us a Christmas card. Wow. And so he had made it. And he said that he had no memory of it. There was two weeks of his life that was just gone. There was a beautiful picture of them on vacation. So that type of stuff just really sticks and it's really cool.
Speaker 1: 38:46
That's a cool story. Yeah, makes me cry. That's, that's super cool.
Speaker 2: 38:51
I gotta tell you one more really cool one. Yeah. He had a woman came into the fire station. And she was she had been looking for the person who delivered her baby. So it turns out, we had had a childbirth call. She was trying to get in the car and basically got to the door of the car in the garage and just sat down on the floor and that she said I can't make it. We've got to do it here. So they called 911 we had help deliver her baby there at the house and then transported her and the baby and I was taking care of her because kind of that female connection and then that my male partner was taking care of her baby. So it worked out perfectly. It was a few years later, she remembered that my name was Trisha she had come by the first station like three or four times to find me and never had. So I was at the elementary school, our kids elementary school, I was on the PTA. So I was at one of the PTA board meetings and doing a presentation on fire safety and she put together Tricia Fire Department. How many could Be. So it turns out that every year after that our kids were going to school together. And I was invited to her son's birthday party who I had helped deliver.
Speaker 1: 40:10
That is so cool.
Speaker 2: 40:13
just there's a lot of cool connections like that, and stories that I could go on and on about,
Speaker 1: 40:18
I can only imagine now, are there any, like wackadoodle ones were like, just crazy, like, Oh my gosh, I can't believe you know, I mean, just like any kind of God, I know, can you to file their count? Well, you know, it's always good to have like, like, what story? Would you be telling me if we were sitting in the bar right now? I'd be like this one time. I can't believe what comes to mind with you. When I say what kind of shenanigans would go on in the firehouse?
Speaker 2: 40:41
You know, a lot of them. Luckily, in my exposure, I wasn't part of any of them that went awry. We did have one. And this was a good friend of mine was involved with this, where they had a newer person who, I don't remember the whole story Exactly. But it was something to the effect of they had been talking at the dinner table about how there was prison nearby, and someone had escaped from the prison and yada, yada. And I'm gonna mess up the story. But basically, someone went across the street after they played card to buy like lottery tickets at AMPM. And they dressed up in a mask. And when the person was the firefighters coming back to the station, they created so the guy ends up running, screaming, calling the police helicopters are so bad, and I was so thankful I was not involved with that at all. But that's the extreme side. I mean, we did. One of the guys on my crew didn't like scary movies. And we had watched the scary movie when they we talked him into it. And another guy on the crew ended up hiding in his locker for like an hour. popped out and scared him when he was falling asleep. just silly, stupid stuff. But yeah, it's, you know, we see such heavy stuff. And we really do go through so many challenges, trying to find a way to lighten it up. And I feel like overall as a whole, we do a really good job, trying to make each other laugh and keep a good perspective and a good humor on life. We can't fix everything. We just do the best we can being okay with. Yeah,
Speaker 1: 42:31
well, so it wasn't long after I met you in I think I met up in Sacramento. And so it wasn't very long after and I was actually at home reading a news article because there had been an incident in Las Vegas that happened and there was a shooting, you know, everything that goes along with that. But then I'm flipping to this news article about a local fireman where I live and I'm reading about him and his girlfriend. And as I'm reading through it, I see Trish Paulette mentioned in this article, my heart dropped, my jaw dropped. Oh my God, why is her name in here? Tell me why was your name in that article,
Speaker 2: 43:05
We had been at the concert in Las Vegas, the route 91 Harvest Festival. And we're having a wonderful weekend with some friends, Bruce and I were there with another couple. He worked for the fire department also. And then another guy who I went through the Fire Academy with who's also with our fire department. And we were watching the concert and there was this nice couple in front of us that we started talking to turned out he worked for the fire department as well. And we'd been talking to him and his girlfriend for probably about an hour he'd gone and bought around a beers and we're hoping the person that was passed out on the ground in front of us wouldn't throw up on our boots. Next thing you know, we're kind of holding our ground and enjoy watching Jason Aldine. And a few songs in the shooting started. And the guys thought that it was firecrackers. And I looked around and I saw a group of people off to the side pullback. I was trying to convince them I felt really strongly that it was shooting that it wasn't firecrackers and something I saw off to the side. Everybody backed up like when there's a fight. But there was I thought, Oh, those must be firecrackers. And there was no smoke and no smell. And then it became very real. When Christina had I didn't realize she leaned in and told Kelly she couldn't catch her breath. What I saw was Christina falling to the ground. And she had been shot in the chest. And so we Ruth Kelly and I all got to the ground and our other friend Ed and my friend Ed for help and not really realizing how big of a thing this was going to be. And so it turned out that I looked and I saw blood pouring out of sight of Christina's chest and realize she had been shot And then our whole focus turn.
Speaker 1: 45:04
You have been listening to San Diego fire Battalion Chief Tricia Pawlett describe it it was like to find herself and the love of her life beneath a terrifying shower of gunfire. This was a mass casualty emergency incident they would normally be responding to as firefighters. But we're now in a different role. Be sure to subscribe and catch the next episode of her brotherhood, where Trish shares with us the life changing details of followed